Book Review: Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

A riveting cat-and-mouse suspense thriller about a retired cop and a couple of unlikely allies whorace against time to stop a lone killer intent on blowing up thousands.

Retired homicide detective Bill Hodges is haunted by the few cases he left open, and by one in particular: in the pre-dawn hours, hundreds of desperate unemployed people were lined up for a spot at a job fair in a distressed Midwestern city. Without warning, a lone driver ploughed through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes. Eight people were killed, fifteen wounded. The killer escaped.

Months later, on the other side of the city, Bill Hodges gets a taunting letter in the mail, from a man claiming to be the perpetrator. Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on hunting him down.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. And he is preparing to kill again.

Hodges, with a couple of misfit friends, must apprehend the killer in this high-stakes race against time. Because Brady's next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim hundreds, even thousands.

I only heard about Mr. Mercedes when it was near publishing time, I dont know how this book escaped my attention! I am a big Stephen King fan and read his book from the supernatural thrillers down to The Dark Tower series and this latter is one that got me into the fantasy fiction in the first place. Last year Stephen King went into a new direction with his book Joyland going more towards the traditional styles of fiction and not focusing on the supernatural elements, I enjoyed this new venture. Mr Mercedes is the same a downright page turning crime/thriller in the classic way without a supernatural element. In Mr. Mercedes Stephen King has thought of every detail to make this one confronting and deadly story. 


I was hooked line and sinker from the first page. A thriller needs a thrilling start and this is just what Stephen King does in his introduction. It picks up as a somewhat innocent story with people standing in line and what Stephen King does and what chills me to the bone is that you learn the names and the past of these people like they could be the protagonists of the story. Giving you a detailed description as to why they stand in line and several hardships they had to endure. Just until they get struck down by a stolen Mercedes. With this last scene I really had my heart racing and my jaw dropping, it's powerful and will make sure that you will be watching out for cars when you are standing in such a crowd. 

After this action packed start of Mr. Mercedes, you get introduced to the main protagonist of the story retired Detective Bill Hodges. He has been off the force for a few months now but has had it rough, some horrible thoughts of ending his life premature have even crossed his mind. Also before his retirement he had a great streak with solving cases but one case, the one involving the mass murder with a Mercedes was one that he never managed to solve. But now the killer who drove the Mercedes has returned. One day Bill receives a letter in the mail with detailed descriptions told from the viewpoint of the killer and the killer even goes so far as giving an account for a chat programme, under the blue umbrella, so that Bill can directly talk to him. Bill does the unthinkable and doesn't go to the police to drop the letter but instead takes this cold case by himself... He wont let the killer get away again if it's up to him. From this point onwards Bill finds himself in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game between him and the killer. Will Bill be able to stop this maniac in time before another disaster will take place? It's one deadly game where you don't want to be caught in the middle, because even Bill's friends aren't safe. This is just a short description of the story of Mr. Mercedes, telling more would definitely spoil the reading surprise. It doesn't do justice at all, there is so much more going on and I really urge you to find out for yourself!

As for the characters of Mr. Mercedes, I have already mentioned the retired Detective Bill Hodges. I was very pleased with how Stephen King showed his character. During his years of service Bill had proved more than once that he had a sharp mind and showed determination and even with his retirement this hasn't changed. Though he did suffer from a depression early on in the book because of his retirement, as soon as he is back on his own case to catch the Mercedes killer his energy is rejuvenated and you do see a different Bill. One thing that I liked about his character was the fact how he went and planned his investigation. He knew from the start that he was dealing with the real killer but he tries provoke the actual killer through the blue umbrella chat programme that leads to a hightend tension and frustration level for the Mercedes killer. This is just the detective side of Bill, his more personal side also has a lot working for the story and during his investigation he does meet up with other people, which to some he get closer than to others. In Bill Stephen King has created a diverse character that has both a controlling and hard personality when it comes to being a detective but also an emotional side when it comes down to the personal relations he has with several other characters. 

One thing that I always like when it comes down to these kind of thriller is to look into the mind of the murder. And luckily you get the full deal in Mr. Mercedes as Brady Hartfield, the killer has it complete own perspective. Just as with Bill Hodges' character, Stephen King nails Brady Hartfield as a deadly, dangerous maniac/psychopath. Take the letter that Bill receives, it just how you would picture a killer to be. No remorse and gloating about all that he has done and that he is still walking a free man. However a killer often isn't born a killer but a troubled past makes can turn an innocent man into something different and this is just what Brady had to endure, his mother was and still is a strong alcoholic and at home it wasn't at all fun and games. There is a strong characterization both on the side of Detective Hodges and on the side of the killer Brady that adds a breakneck pacing to the story. 

To be honest when I read Under the Dome I found the ending to be more so-so, but with his latest book Joyland he wrote a solid one and the same goes for Mr. Mercedes. Stephen King builds up a lot of suspense and tension as the books nears it ending that really is one race against time. As a reader I was pleased with how Stephen King was able to show all the chaos with that the Bill had to go through when he found out what Brady was planning in his last stage. This chaos however is shown in a restraint manner not letting the story derail itself and become convoluted, more on the contrary, Stephen King really zoomed into the final stages and created a edge of your seat ending. A really satisfying conclusion to such a powerful story. 

I have been a constant reader of Stephen King's book and the ones that I have read have proved to be great works. Last year with Joyland Stephen King showed a new direction of his writing and the same counts for Mr. Mercedes. With this first nail-biting suspenseful true crime/thriller book Stephen King hit all the right snares. There might not be that much "new" crime elements in there but the story that Stephen King does create is one force to be reckoned with. The characters of Bill and Brady are all shown down into the details and you really are able to crawl inside their heads and see just what they are planning in their next move. Even though there isn't a supernatural element in Mr. Mercedes, Stephen King managed to give me the chills when I read Mr. Mercedes. Brady is one psychopath you don't want to cross lanes with... This is a terrific book, you HAVE to read it. period. On another note, a second book, yes a second book by Stephen King, Revival will be released in November this year as well! 

Comments

  1. I'll probably give this a read at some point, but it's Revival that I really want to sink my teeth into!

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    1. It's a very fast read, wont take you more than an afternoon! Revival sounds super, anticipating that book as well. Two Kings in one year! :)

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